|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 13, Tuesday March 25, 2008|
THERE was a time when our wallets and purses carried small phonebooks with names of individuals to be contacted in case of emergencies. The whole concept of phonebooks has radically taken the digital form. In the bewildering world of calling options, one thing that escapes most of our minds is storing important numbers for emergencies. If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending to us would have our mobile phone but would not know whom to call. There are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence the 'ICE' (In Case of Emergency) campaign.
The idea came flying to us in the form of a forward. And for once we appreciate the effort of the sender. As it seems, the concept of 'ICE' is catching on quickly the world over. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name 'ICE' ( In Case Of Emergency). The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when attending scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a recognized name for this purpose.
Conceptually ICE is not easily adaptable in Bangladesh. Cell phone operators can play a vital role in selling this idea to the mass people. When commercials of text messages and FNF numbers flood television screens and newspaper pages, promoting the idea of ICE would truly be beneficial for society.
I got to see Holi as it is played in Braj Bhumi (the abode of Lord Krishna). Braj is an area that is spread over 5,000kms and covers the contiguous states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. The region is closely linked with the life of Lord Krishna who used to joyously play Holi (the festival of colours) with Radha and the Gopis.
A few days before Holi, the towns of Nandgaon (where Krishna grew up) and Barsana (where Radha grew up) were humming with activity. The towns are even today considered the epicentre of the Holi celebrations. In the Braj region, the festival is known as Brij Ki Holi or Lath Mar Holi.
Till date, enthusiastic men and women celebrate the rather messy festival by clashing with each other in a unique battle of the sexes. The men of Nandgaon raid Barsana with hopes of raising their flags over Radha's temple. As they enter the area, they receive a 'warm' greeting from the women a sound beating with long, wooden sticks as they rush through town to reach the precincts of the temple! The hapless well-padded men are not allowed to retaliate. In this staged battle, men have to try their best not to be 'captured'. Those unlucky can be forcefully lead away, thrashed and dressed in female attire before they are made to dance!
Thankfully for the men this custom is confined to a small pocket of the region. Elsewhere in Vrindavan, men and women flock to the temples to celebrate the occasion. If you are unlucky, mischievous young ones will throw balloons filled with coloured water on you. Or you may have your car splashed with colour.
And what about Delhi? Like elsewhere, the younger generation participates with gusto. I remember seeing to my horror school boys and girls thoroughly messed up with bright colours and even mud and grease. It is not uncommon for the grown ups to celebrate Holi near a water tank filled with coloured water where unwary guests are thrown in. It is sometimes also an excuse to get inebriated with bhang.
For Rajneesh Kapur, communications officer in Braj Foundation, which is engaged in the conservation of the Braj region, Holi is a relatively sedate affair. The boisterous celebrations of his school days have given way to small get togethers with family and friends. Chatting over traditional sweetmeats called gujia, they sip a drink called kanji (the juice of red carrots).
Thankfully with raising awareness about the hazards of chemical colours, there is a move to use herbal colours made from vegetable matter saffron is made from kesar, yellow from turmeric, green from henna or spinach, red from beetroot and blue from indigo. Many such colours are available at various points in Delhi. In an attempt to reduce wood consumption, groups such as Sadvichar Parivar are now advocating one symbolic community fire instead of several smaller bonfires across the city. Still there is a long way to go before school children become sensitised to such environmental issues as they have about the firecrackers at Diwali time.
By Kavita Charanji
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